Tuesday, April 24, 2012

UnEarthed by Rebecca Bloomer : Interview, Excerpt

If you’re going to colonise a planet, you’d better be willing to fight for it.

Within Anphobos, there grows a new race.  The first generation of humans never to set foot on Earth.  They are pale skinned, large eyed and worship no god but science.  They possess technological skills and processes Earth has refused to acknowledge.  Until now…

“We are Martian. Your religion isn’t ours. Our god is Mars. Our religion is science. Anything we do in the service of Mars, is good. Make no mistake, Earth girl, we are both right and good.”

Fresh off Earth, Jodi Scarfield doesn’t really care for Mars or its politics. Still, accusations of treason will get a girl’s attention...


This whole move was her father’s plan of course. David Scarfield had been offered the opportunity to manufacture and grow crops in the Anphobos greenhouses. What botanist wouldn’t leap at that kind of chance?  That had been his question. There had been no appropriate answer. Botanists had a history of stupid behaviour. David Scarfield was continuing a fine tradition. That he screwed over his family in the meantime was, apparently, not important.
Jodi kept scraping the little rough edges off her nails. It wasn’t chewing really, so much as trimming.
Martian kids were a pack of self-important psylocrats. The ones she’d met on Earth barely spoke to other kids at school. They treated Earth technology as though it was backward and annoying, and they made constant comparisons between Earth and Mars, as though Earth could never hope to compete. Jodi felt her hackles rise just at the thought. Admittedly —and considering her latest exploits— she wasn’t the globe’s greatest patriot, but she wasn’t stupid either.
Everyone knew Martian and Earthen technology were the same. Anphobos was an Earthen colony, for crying out loud. Mars couldn’t do anything without Earth monitoring and approving of it. Even Martian inhabitants were screened by Earth’s health and quarantine officers. The whole red planet colony would barely exist if it weren’t for Earth. So who were these ego-inflated, technogeeks kidding when they poured on their attitudes?  It was ridiculous, really. Or it would have been, if she weren’t about to join a school—nay a whole frying colony—full of them.
The shuttle whooshed and slid just the way it was supposed to. Mars, with its red dust, mountains, craters and unearthly land forms, grew closer and closer by the second. Then the colony came into view. Vast by comparison with what she’d imagined, Anphobos was shaped like a giant wheel. Concentric circles joined by spokes, glowed white and silver against a blood-red planet. Nestled at the curve of Cydonia’s throat, her new home stood like a jewel on the surface of the planet.
As if the face-shaped mountain wasn’t enough of a threatening protector for the colony of Anphobos, this jewel also belonged to Mars, an angry and warlike god. If she let her imagination run too far, Jodi could almost feel Mars resenting their arrival. This god who lent his name was hoarding and hungry. Panic fluttered fast in her chest. She was going to be trapped here, just like all the other people inside that synthetic dome. Once you were in, you couldn’t get out. Mars wouldn’t allow it. There wouldn’t be any nice picnicking day trips across to the craters. Mars never needed day trippers. Mars had always been one for sacrifices.
Jodi breathed deeply and closed her eyes. Air-conditioned cool ran through her sinuses. What was she doing?  No need to borrow trouble.
Just as the thought crossed her mind, trouble came for her. Trouble with a capital T.

I'm pleased to welcome Rebecca Bloomer to my blog today.  How did you begin your writing career?

When I was a teenager I attended an all girls catholic school. In the evenings, after homework, I’d write bodice-ripping romances.  My friends would read these romances in installments, vying over who got to read what pages first.  One afternoon, a girl I barely knew chased after me and asked “Bec, can I be first with your pages tomorrow?”  I shrugged.  “I’ve got a lot of math homework tonight, so I probably won’t have time to write.”  The girl grinned at me.  “I’ll do your math homework if I get your pages first.”  Right then, I realised I wanted to be a writer.

Tell us about your current release.

My current book, UnEarthed is YA sci-fi.  It sprang out of some research I was involved in when I was working at the University of Queensland (UQ).  It’s a vast step away from my first YA books but I love it.  I love that even with a science-fiction setting and plot, I’ve got female characters who are feisty and strong.  I love them for their brains, their attitudes and their immense hearts.  In fact, even though UnEarthed was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, I’ve just finished the first draft of its sequel…UnEarthly!

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

Yes, I was lucky enough to work at UQ with a guy named John Cokley.  Before becoming an academic in the School of Journalism, John was an editor for The Courier Mail (newspaper in Queensland).  He taught me how to be a ‘bolshy author’ the same way he taught journalism students how to kick down doors and ask hard questions.  When he read UnEarthed and told me how much he liked it, I asked “You wouldn’t just say that because I work with you…would you?”  He sighed.  “Rebecca, I’m an editor.  If I don’t like your work, I have a million ways to tell you.”  He does too!  He sends me back for rewrites, asks insightful questions and listens while I run through plots and story ideas over lunch.  He’s exactly what an author needs and I’m eternally grateful.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I write at least a thousand words a day, just because I need routine.  At the moment I write at night because I’m homeschooling my daughter while we here in France for the year.  I had planned to write while she did schoolwork…but that didn’t work.  Now I supervise/help/teach her during the day and write at night. 

As to how long…well Ernest Hemingway believed that you should always stop while you’re on a roll.  That way you can start writing the next day feeling enthusiastic and ready. I’m practicing his method at the moment.  I stop mid-moment, just so I’m still hankering the next day.

Where do you research your books?

Everywhere!  I eavesdrop on conversations for accents and cadence.  I cut snippets out of magazines.  I read journal articles and watch documentaries.  I collect anecdotes, listen to music and daydream continuously.  I think in this way, most writers are blackbirds.  We steal all the sparkly, shiny things that take our fancy and take them home with us in hope they’ll work some kind of magic for us. 

What are you passionate about these days?

Difference!  I’m so sick of cultures trying to convince our kids that they need to conform in order to succeed.  I’m tired of looking at generic images of beauty.  I’m absolutely and completely fed up, with our ridiculous consumption of gossip and image over fact and substance.  

I wage my war in my books.  None of my characters are ‘normal’ but they’re all extraordinary.  All of them are more than they first appear, and they’re all people I would admire or fall in love with, were they real.

You’ll see that the tagline on my blog is ‘Giving normal a bad name’.  I’m on a mission to encourage kids to veer from the norm and aim toward amazing!

Rebecca Bloomer has led a hectic and sometimes harried life.  This probably began when she became a teenaged mother.   Baby on hip, Rebecca returned to school in order to finish her studies.  Upon completing grade twelve she immediately took up study in her favoured field of education.  In 1996 she finished her Bachelor of Education with a double major in English and Biology and immediately began work in a small town called Lowood (yes, the graffiti-d sign still says ‘SLOWOOD’)

With four years of teaching under her belt, Rebecca decided to expand her horizons.  So she packed up her house, her kids and her partner, put them on a plane and flew the family to Turkey.  In Turkey she proceeded to teach English, travel at every opportunity, and learn a little about many magical cultures. At no point did she wear a scarf, a veil , a chador, or a burqa (though it may have saved some bad hair days).

Rebecca now speaks Turkish, survival Italian, commando French, even worse German, and can swear in a number of other languages.  She also likes to think she’s pretty well mastered English.
Rebecca also mastered Education by undertaking postgraduate studies in the field with a major in Leadership and Management.  Read more

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